'Disruptive' JetBlue pilot indicted, accused of interfering with flight crew

Clayton Osbon, shown in this booking photo provided by the Randall County Sheriff's Office, has been formally charged.

Story highlights

  • JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon began behaving erratically on a March 27 flight, authorities say
  • His copilot locked him out of the cockpit, and several passengers subdued him
  • He is charged with one count of interfering with a flight crew
  • The indictment says he knowingly interfered with the crew and was disruptive

A JetBlue pilot has been indicted, accused of interfering with a flight crew just over two weeks after several passengers wrestled him to the floor after he exhibited what authorities described as erratic behavior.

Clayton Osbon, 49, was formally charged Wednesday in a federal court in Amarillo, Texas, where the flight he was on landed safely after the incident, according to an indictment filed that day.

The court document says that Osbon "did knowingly and willingly interfere and attempt to interfere with the performance of the duties of a flight crew member and flight attendant." The indictment further alleges that he "moved through the aircraft and was disruptive and had to be subdued and forcibly restrained from re-entering the cockpit."

According to an FBI affidavit, a JetBlue copilot became concerned about Osbon's bizarre behavior early in their March 27 flight from New York to Las Vegas.

As the Airbus A320 was climbing out of New York's Kennedy International Airport, Osbon talked about his church and needing to "focus," the affidavit says. He then told the co-pilot to take the controls and to work the radio, and began talking about religion, making statements that were incoherent, it says.

At one point, Osbon said, "We're not going to Vegas," according to the affidavit.

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The concerned co-pilot suggested they invite an off-duty JetBlue captain into the cockpit. Instead, Osbon "abruptly left the cockpit to go to the forward lavatory," the affidavit says.

    The co-pilot used the opportunity to get the off-duty captain into the cockpit and lock the door.

    When Osbon tried to enter his code into the cockpit door, the co-pilot announced over the public address system an order to restrain Osbon. Several passengers wrestled Osbon to the floor and restrained him.

    The flight was diverted to Amarillo, after which Osbon was taken into custody.

    Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lou Robinson ordered Osbon to be transferred to an unnamed medical facility for federal prisoners so he could undergo a psychiatric evaluation as part of the process to see whether he was sane during the incident and whether he is competent to stand trial.

    There is reason to believe Osbon "may presently be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent" to understand the case against him and assist in his defense, the U.S. attorney's office said in a Texas court filing last week.

    As of Wednesday at least, he remained in custody, according to the indictment.